Sending HMRC your Self Assessment tax return
If you’re new to Self Assessment because you need to pay the High Income Child Benefit Charge, go to GOV.UK https://www.gov.uk/child-benefit-tax-charge to find out what you need to do
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has produced a short YouTube video on the 31 January Self Assessment tax return deadline. In a question and answer interview, Ruth Owen, HMRC Director General, Personal Tax, answers the top questions about doing Self Assessment online.
She covers the deadline, filing online, what taxpayers need to do in the lead-up to the annual deadline, what happens if you don't pay on time, and repayments of tax by HMRC.
Log in and send your tax return online
If you haven't sent a tax return online before, read the section below on getting ready and
If you have sent a tax return online before
You must send your online Self Assessment tax return by midnight on Friday 31 January 2014.
The deadline is only later than 31 January if it was after 31 October 2013 when HMRC sent you the letter telling you to complete a tax return. In this case you'll have three months from the date of the letter.
If your online tax return is late, you will have to pay a penalty. You can read more about penalties below in the section 'What happens if you miss the tax return deadline'.
You send your tax return online using the HMRC Self Assessment Online service.
If you're new to online filing
If you haven't sent a Self Assessment tax return online before, you must first sign up to use HMRC Online Services. You needed to do this by 21 January 2014. This earlier date was to make sure you received your Activation Code in time to send your tax return by 31 January.
Although you may not now receive your Activation Code in time, you should still sign up for HMRC Online Services as soon as you can. Once you get your Activation Code, come back to the HMRC site and log in. You will find instructions on how to activate the online service. You should send your tax return online straight away. If you don't, the penalty you have to pay may be higher.
You can find out more about penalties in the section 'What happens if you miss the tax return deadline' below.
When you sign-up give HMRC your email address. Then, if you forget either your User ID or your password in future, you'll be able to go online and get a new one sent to you.
If you've sent your tax return online before
If you've used the Self Assessment service before, you won't need to activate your account again, just use the log in link below.
Make sure you know your User ID and password
If you only use Self Assessment Online once a year, it's worth checking well before the deadline that you know your User ID and password.
If you've lost either your User ID or password
If you’ve lost either your User ID or your password, you can get a new one. You may not now receive your new User ID or password in time to send your tax return online by 31 January. You should still send your tax return online as soon as you can. Follow the link below and select the 'Lost User ID' or 'Lost password' link.
If you've lost both your User ID and password
If you've lost both your ID and password, you can send an online form asking for a copy of your user ID. When you get that, you can reset your password online.
You'll be asked for some personal data when you complete the form. This allows HMRC to make security checks. If you pass the checks, you'll be sent a replacement User ID in the post. You'll then be able to request a new password online. Your password will be sent to you electronically, if you've provided a current email address, or by post if not.
This service is available if you need to get online to complete your personal tax return, for example if you're self-employed, an employee or a pensioner. It isn't available for partnerships, tax agents or advisers.
Important: When completing the online form, please ensure you provide accurate information, for example, your Unique Tax Reference (UTR). If the details you provide on the online form are accurate, HMRC will be able to send your User ID and you won't have to telephone the Online Services Helpdesk. Only use this online form if you have previously activated the Self Assessment online service.
If you have problems logging in
If you enter the wrong password three times, your Self Assessment Online account will be locked for the next two hours. After this time you can log in again with your correct User ID and password.
You can send most tax returns online. You can either use the free HMRC service or buy commercial software. You still need to register for HMRC Online Services first, whichever option you choose.
In some cases you may have to use commercial software, as the free HMRC service might not provide the pages you need. To find out what's covered by the free HMRC service or if you'll need to buy commercial software, follow the link below.
For help with completing your tax return online
If you use the HMRC online tax return, you'll be able to click on help text on each page for more information.
You can also look at the HMRC online tax demonstrator before you start.
Check for any service issues
HMRC will try to let you know if there are any known issues with this year's Self Assessment online service. They will tell you what to do to resolve them, if possible, so that you can still send in your tax return on time.
Read any error messages
Read any error message you get when you're completing your tax return. These will help you correct the entry straight away. It may be something simple. For example you may have used text or punctuation that the online service doesn't accept, or used the return key to start a new line in a box for information.
Make sure you submit your tax return
You don't have to complete your tax return all in one go. You may need to check some facts and figures first. But make sure that you do come back and complete and submit your tax return before the deadline. You'll be asked to enter your User ID and password again. The HMRC free service will only show your return as 100% complete once you have submitted it. You'll get an on-screen acknowledgement that your tax return has been sent.
You must pay any amount due for 2012 to 13 by 31 January 2014. The payment deadline is the same whether you send a paper tax return or an online tax return.
HMRC recommends that you make your Self Assessment payments electronically. It's safe and secure and provides certainty about when your payment will reach HMRC.
When you make a payment, be sure to use the right reference number. It's called a Unique Taxpayer Reference or UTR. For example 1234567890K.
Follow the link below for more information about all the available payment options, reference numbers and your Self Assessment Statement.
If you miss the 31 January deadline for online tax returns, you'll have to pay a penalty. The penalty is £100. You will still have to pay this even if:
- your tax return is just a day late
- you have no tax to pay
- you pay all the tax you owe before 31 January 2014
The longer you delay, the more you'll have to pay. There are additional penalties when your tax return is three, six and twelve months late. Together these could add up to a penalty of £1,600 or more, so make sure you get your tax return in on time.
Don’t send a paper tax return now - the deadline was 31 October 2013. You will have to pay a £100 penalty straight away if you do and the daily penalties above will start even earlier. Send it online instead.
Having a reasonable excuse for missing the deadline
You may not have to pay a penalty if you have a reasonable excuse for missing the deadline. For example, there may have been an unexpected or unusual event, beyond your control, which meant you couldn’t send your return on time.
Follow the link below to find out more about having a reasonable excuse and how to appeal against HMRC decisions, including penalties.
If HMRC has asked you to complete a return but you don't think you need to, follow the link below. You'll find out how to check if you need to complete a Self Assessment tax return.